Why each NCAA match crew will cover the unfold in their Friday first-spherical game

by Brett Harper

The 2019 NCAA basketball event is underway, opening with a small dissatisfied as No. 10-seeded Minnesota had little hassle dispatching No. 7-seeded Louisville. That become followed by way of just fun near LSU win over BYU. The event wraps up three weeks any more Monday, April 8, with the countrywide championship sport.

There could be masses of Cinderella testimonies to maintain us entertained, however even when Cinderella comes up simply short; she can nevertheless win you cash against the spread. So, it’s time to start figuring out in which we’ll see upsets.


We took a study all 16 point spreads for Thursday’s matchups, and nowadays we’re back with a look at all 16 of Friday’s matchups. We chatted with our network of team emblem managers to discern out why each crew might cowl the unfold. Everybody has their very own philosophy, but getting perception from folks that are in particular dialed in can assist get you a critical side to show this March into a worthwhile one.

East vicinity
1) Duke vs. Sixteen) North Dakota State
Spread: Duke -27

Why Duke will cover: Zion Williamson isn’t just the satisfactory participant within u. S. A . — he also sets the tone for Duke on both ends of the ground. Williamson offers Duke can become part they neglected closing yr defensively, while Mike Krzyzewski’s crew resorted to the region to cover their superstars at the protecting stop. Williamson leads capable man-to-guy protection this year that doesn’t take plays off. You can bet Duke will play until the very last buzzer irrespective of the rating. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why North Dakota State will cowl: The maximum probable threat for the East’s 16-seed may be for the blowout to be nicely and truly on within the 2d half of, leading to Krzyzewski resting Duke’s key performers, especially with Williamson these days lower back from damage and Marques Bolden doubtlessly returning for the NCAAs. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

four) Virginia Tech vs. 13) Saint Louis
Spread: Virginia Tech -10

Why Virginia Tech will cowl: The Hokies have all of the markers of a sleeper crew, competing in the pinnacle-25 of each offensive and protective efficiency and coming into the match at No. Eleven average in KenPom’s rankings despite carrying a 4-seed. With Justin Robinson predicted to be back, VT has to the cowl. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why Saint Louis will cover: While Saint Louis struggled in Atlantic 10 play, the Billikens are arguably the league’s maximum talented team. They additionally defeated three most important conference groups in November and December and played Houston, a three seed, to a four-point decision on the street. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

5) Mississippi State vs. 12) Liberty
Spread: Mississippi State -7.5

Why Mississippi State will cowl: The Bulldogs can rating, entering the match one of the top-15 groups within u. S. A. In offensive efficiency. With an efficient, skilled backcourt and to go together with size up the front, Mississippi State should overwhelm Liberty from the top. Does Liberty have sufficient firepower to come again? With the second one slowest offense in DI, don’t count on it. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why Liberty will cover: Ritchie McKay’s Liberty squad is every other one that could change genuinely slow things down, as they’re 350th in adjusted pace in KenPom, averaging fewer than sixty-two possessions per recreation. Mississippi State has performed seven video games with 63 possessions or fewer this season — with just two of those decided through more than four points. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

eight) VCU vs. Nine) UCF
Spread: VCU -1.5

Why VCU will cover: VCU ranks in the pinnacle ten nationally in an expansion of protecting classes in KenPom, consisting of adjusted defensive performance, effective subject intention percent, and turnover percentage. That manner the Rams could be perfectly capable of forcing UCF into unforced errors. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

Why UCF will cover: Strange as it can seem, given how UCF has played inside the final month, it still doesn’t beautiful experience as although they’ve put all of it together for a real stretch. Even within the win at No. 8 Houston, B.J. Taylor become just 1-for-6 from the field. The Knights are the nine-seed inside the matchup with 8-seed VCU, the A-10 ordinary-season champ, and both squads are coming off extended rests after bombing out within the quarters of their respective conference tournaments. But VCU’s top scorer Marcus Evans left their A-10 Quarterfinal loss with knee damage. There’s no structural harm, according to latest reviews. However the bottom line is he’s no longer healthful, and UCF is. The Knights have a clear size benefit in the paint (see: Fall, Tacko), and Taylor has to have a subject day attending to the rim against the banged-up Evans. And if he doesn’t, Aubrey Dawkins and Terrell Allen need to. With the line at VCU -1.Five, picking UCF to cover essentially approach selecting UCF outright. — Jeff Sharon, Black and Gold Banneret

South vicinity
1) Virginia vs. 16) Gardner-Webb
Spread: Virginia -24

Why Virginia will cover: Throw out last season. This Virginia squad is No. 2 on KenPom in offensive efficiency and has a trio of stars that can shoot the heck out of the ball in De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy, and Ty Jerome. Hunter, who overlooked the final 12 months’ UMBC fiasco with a broken wrist, is a lottery pick out and is capturing forty-six percent from 3 and has an eFG% of 59 percent. Throw in Guy’s forty-seven percentage three-point taking pictures, and Virginia’s No. 5 defense, and matters may want to get out of hand quickly. — Caroline Darney, Streaking the Lawn

Why Gardner-Webb will cover: Gardner-Webb have several excellent perimeter shooters, and if the Bulldogs can get the threes to drop, they’ll keep the margin decent. The Running Bulldogs already have wins over ACC squads this season (Wake Forest and Georgia Tech), and in opposition to the Demon Deacons, attending to the road became key (they shot forty free throws). DJ Laster is an effective scorer, and David Efianayi will keep the Hoos honest beyond the arc (forty-one %). — Caroline Darney, Streaking the Lawn

2) Tennessee vs. 15) Colgate
Spread: Tennessee -17.Five

Why Tennessee will cover: Colgate capabilities a balanced offensive assault with a legitimate trio of scorers, but their downfall will come on the defensive stop of the floor. Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone strength Tennessee’s offense and should have an area day with the Raiders’ defense, which ranks inside the 200s in terms of performance. Colgate faced four colleges from power meetings this season — Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and South Florida — whenever dropping by 10 points or more. This veteran Tennessee team should pop out hungry and refocused after a watch-commencing loss to Auburn inside the SEC championship. Look for Colgate to make masses of pictures. However, Tennessee will be attacking the rim from the whole trip. Only a handful of groups can fit Tennessee’s physicality for forty minutes. The Vols ought to wear down the Raiders and cruise overdue. — Terry Lambert, Rocky Top Talk

Why Colgate will cover: Colgate can result in reality rating, which permits them to paste around in maximum games. Even even though the Raiders misplaced all four video games, they played in opposition to electricity convention warring parties this season, best their defeat at Syracuse came with the aid of greater than eleven points (21). — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

4) Kansas State vs. 13) UC Irvine
Spread: Kansas State -five.Five

Why Kansas State will cowl: Picking UC Irvine almost feels a little too trendy. Don’t forget that this Kansas State group received the Big 12 outright in the normal season, finishing Kansas’ 14-year grappling hold on that name. The Wildcats shield like loopy, completing No. 4 in u. S. In shielding efficiency. It could be tough if star forward Dean Wade can’t cross. However, KSU nonetheless has enough juice to cowl. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why UC Irvine will cover: UC Irvine has won 29 games over Division I competition, inclusive of sixteen immediately. While Kansas State is a step up in opposition for the Anteaters, the probable absence of Wade for the Wildcats changes the matchup, particularly at the indoors. UC Irvine is already the country’s top-ranked crew in two-point field goal percentage defense, according to KenPom, so they’ll be able to restriction Kansas State’s probabilities interior. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

5) Wisconsin vs. 12) Oregon
Spread: Wisconsin -1.5

Why Wisconsin will cover: Recency bias favors the Ducks, but the contrarian making a betting approach favors Wisconsin. The Ducks are currently getting 58 percent of the bets offshore. With a projected line of five.Five in favor of Wisconsin, this screams for an opportunity to shop for low on the Badgers as the general public sides with the new group in Oregon. Wisconsin completed fourth in arguably the toughest convention top to bottom, at the same time as Oregon struggled to stay above .500 in a susceptible power five conventions. Sure they battled accidents along the way, however so does each person in university basketball. Ultimately, this game will come down to every team’s potential to make shots always. Both groups are prone to long stretches of negative offense, and with both teams playing stifling defense this sport will come down to who can negate the scoreless stretches. The Badgers will run their offense thru Ethan Happ, and his competencies as a pinnacle-tier passer have to help Wisconsin discover gaps towards the Oregon defense must they decide to play their quarter appearance. With extra perimeter shooters, this has to help Wisconsin at the offensive quit. While Oregon is the stylish choose, I aspect with the consistency of Wisconsin, who has long past 22-13-three in opposition to the spread in match video games given that 2005, in line with the Action Network. — Tyler Hunt, Bucky’s 5th Quarter

Why Oregon will cowl: The reason why Oregon will cowl the unfold and likely win over Wisconsin is they may be arguably the hottest crew in college basketball, triumphing eight directly. They needed to play their manner into the Big Dance by winning the Pac-12 Tournament. The superior stats show that Oregon has a balanced offensive assault while the Badgers depend closely on one participant in Happ. The Ducks will pull off the 5-seed vs. 12-seed disillusioned. — Joseph Yun, Addicted to Quack

7) Cincinnati vs. 10) Iowa
Spread: Cincinnati -four

Why Cincinnati will cover: This is a current Cincinnati team, which is to say the Bearcats fight like hell on defense and play a methodical tempo offensively. Cincy is top-50 in efficiency on each end of the floor and feels just like the more difficult, greater disciplined team. Four points shouldn’t be trouble. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why Iowa will cover: The Iowa Hawkeyes will cowl the unfold in opposition to Cincinnati due to the fact they have the firepower to conquer the Bearcats. Iowa’s offense is eventually unshackled from the chains of Big Ten refereeing and could get hold of the advantage of the whistle, to sincerely anger the pro-Cincinnati crowd. Early foul hassle forces Mick Cronin’s hand in defending Luka Garza and Tyler Cook because the Hawkeyes can build an early lead. Clutch shooting using Jordan Bohannon permits Iowa too, at minimal, preserve the sport inside a basket down the stretch. Worst case for a Hawkeyes cover is an besides the point 3 from Connor McCaffery as time expires. — Harrison Starr, Black Heart Gold Pants

eight) Ole Miss vs. 9) Oklahoma
Spread: Ole Miss -2

Why Ole Miss will cover: Ole Miss doesn’t have the quality defense inside the global. However, they’re No. Sixty-five on KenPom and might make matters hard for Oklahoma on that stop of the courtroom. Ole Miss makes threes at a respectable clip (36 percentage), and although this could be a near one, I like Breein Tyree and Terence Davis to make the distinction right here. — Caroline Darney

Why Oklahoma will cover: There’s little purpose to be confident in this Oklahoma crew in its first-spherical matchup, as this organization appears to lack the self-belief or brotherly love to get the process accomplished inside the Big Dance. Additionally, Ole Miss is 23-9 in opposition to the unfolding. OU is 19-10-three ATS in 2018-19 and is likewise chargeable for one of the worst beats inside the records of beat dog. Just to be clear, I don’t believe you should take Oklahoma at +2, however, don’t sleep on that Sooner Magic (incompetent late-recreation officiating, in this situation) when an awful beat is in play. — Jack Shields, Crimson and Cream Machine

Midwest place
1) North Carolina vs. 16) Iona
Spread: North Carolina -25

Why North Carolina will cowl: As a No. 1 seed underneath Roy Williams, Carolina has a median margin of victory of 29 in opposition to No. 16 seeds. Iona ranks 45th within the country in adjusted tempo, in keeping with Ken Pomeroy, and the Tar Heels have historically feasted on teams that try and “run” with them. Their tempo and skills advantages overwhelm opposing groups. With Iona’s adjusted protective performance of 275th, 0.33-worst among all match teams, UNC genuinely has to hold the Gaels underneath eighty points to cover. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Heels’ top-15 protection. — Tanya Bondurant, Tar Heel Blog

Why Iona will cover: Both Iona and UNC play fast, so if the Tar Heels turn this into a blowout early, it might be some other opportunity for a No. 1 seed to relaxation its regulars with plenty of time left. The Gaels then might be able to play catch-up towards Carolina’s backups. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

three) Houston vs. 14) Georgia State
Spread: Houston -12

Why Houston will cover: Few predicted to the Cougars to be this accurate after dropping superstar Rob Gray to commencement. However, Kelvin Sampson’s group has come lower back even stronger way to high-quality stability on both ends. Houston is ranked within the top 25 in the USA in each offensive and protecting efficiency, going for walks up to a 31-3 file as it plays selfless basketball. Spotting Georgia State 12 is lots. However, Houston can deal with it. — Ricky O’Donnell

Why Georgia State will cowl: Georgia State returns a good deal of the team that performed closing season’s American Athletic champion, Cincinnati, in the NCAAs. And even as the Panthers lost that one by way of 15, that become in large part the result of a poor final 10 mins. That revel in should save you an overall repeat performance with the aid of Ron Hunter’s squad. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

6) Iowa State vs. Eleven) Ohio State
Spread: Iowa State -6

Why Iowa State will cowl: Iowa State’s going to cowl because the Cyclones are a massively more entire offensive team than Ohio State, with as a minimum four guys capable of scoring (and already have) 20-25 factors or extra, which include one of the maximum underrated scorers within the united states of America in Marial Shayok. The Cyclones also are at the end of out of the awful stoop on the cease of the normal season and are playing arguably their first-class basketball at simply the proper time. Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson is a stable large guy who takes a big component of their pictures. However, he isn’t any better than Kansas’ Dedric Lawson or Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, guys that Iowa State has in large part close down on a couple of occasions. Nobody is going to mistake Iowa State for a protecting juggernaut, however after they protect and rebound even at a median level and photographs are stepping into, the ‘Clones are certainly difficult to conquer. — Levi Stevenson, Wide Right Natty Light

Why Ohio State will need cowl: Iowa State comes into the NCAA tournament with lots of momentum having won the Big XII Tournament; Ohio State comes in with without a doubt 0 momentum. However, this is a sparkling begin for the Buckeyes, who in reality want it. This team with no consistent out of doors scorer and no steady leadership made the NCAA event; the whole thing else is gravy. While Kaleb Wesson became suspended for three video games to stop the normal season, some other players (Keyshawn Woods, C.J. Jackson, Andre Wesson) stepped up. If they can stability the scoring all through the whole forty mins of play, they have a hazard to no longer only cover, however, win. Also, they (hopefully) won’t be gambling with Big Ten refs, that’s continually an outstanding factor. — Matt Tamanini, Land Grant Holy Land

8) Utah State vs. 9) Washington
Spread Utah State -three.Five

Why Utah State will cover: Utah State has a few larger guards in Abel Porter and Sam Merrill who should be capable of problem Washington’s backcourt, at the same time as 6’11 Neemias Quetta ought to create troubles inside. And with the Huskies being turnover prone and the Aggies exceptional in transition, Utah State need to have lots of possibilities to get smooth baskets and make Washington’s zone a non-aspect. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

Why Washington will cowl: Washington simply stumbled near the give up of the season however they already held a four recreation lead within the Pac-12 standings with simply eight convention video games to play, so it wasn’t unexpected they lost their focus a bit. Utah State had a super season however even in a down Pac-12 the Huskies performed a miles more difficult time table. The Aggies’ 17-1 stretch to end the year protected just three games towards groups in KenPom’s top one hundred twenty and that they finished with simply six such wins compared to Washington’s 15. USU’s protection is based around their shot-blocking stud Neemias Quetta. However Washington’s Noah Dickerson finished second nationally in fouls drawn. If the anchor of the Utah State protection is out with a foul problem, then the Huskies and Pac-12 POY Jaylen Nowell can be capable of getting the rim. Meanwhile, their area, led by using the high-quality defender within the nation Matisse Thybulle, might be capable of keeping Utah State’s offense in taking a look at sufficient to at the least have it come down to a very last shot. Washington’s a three-factor underdog, which would make that a cowl. — Max Vrooman, UW Dawg Pound

West location
3) Texas Tech vs. 14) Northern Kentucky
Spread: Texas Tech -15

Why Texas Tech will cover: I think this answer boils all the way down to protection. Tech is the extra talented crew, that’s undisputed, and that they ought to have the better athletes. So at the offensive give up, I expect Tech if you want to get into the paint and avoid the problems with the midrange game they’ve had at times. Even then, Tech has found their stride on offense. I’m on document announcing 70-plus within the tourney is largely a guaranteed win, and I’d bet Tech hits 80 in this matchup. More importantly, Tech is the quality protection inside the country, going up in opposition to green, however no longer world-beating, an offense that is based heavily on their big men. Owens and Odiade neutralize the paint extremely well, and Culver’s duration combined with Mooney’s arms create havoc for opposing guards. Lockdown defense blended with a mismatch at the offense quit need to permit Tech to shrink back simply past due first half. I expect Tech to cover large time, although I am amazed the road wasn’t down closer to the -12 range. — Macon, Viva the Matadors

Why Northern Kentucky will cover: Even although Northern Kentucky is a good offensive group, the Norse haven’t yet encountered protection that’s as robust as Texas Techs. In different words, this game has real blowout potential. However, if this one receives out of hand early, the Norse are any other group that could have an opportunity to preserve things close towards the Red Raiders’ bench inside the contest’s later levels. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

6) Buffalo vs. Eleven) Arizona State
Spread: Buffalo -five

Why Buffalo will need cowl: The Bulls were one of the Cinderella groups remaining 12 months, but don’t underestimate them this season. They’re proper. CJ Massenburg is a hell of a participant, rocking an eFG% of 57 percent and a 40-percent mark from beyond the arc. The Bulls are No. 20 in offensive efficiency and No. 29 in protective performance. Throw within the truth they’re dealing with a play-in group that’s already performed a sport … I like the Bulls here. — Caroline Darney

Why Arizona State/St. Johns will cover: As we’ve learned with this enthralling Arizona State crew, they can win pretty much any night time and lose pretty much any night time. Bobby Hurley’s former faculty will in all likelihood conflict with the athleticism of Zylan Cheatham and his ability to outrebound all of us. The key factors for ASU making any sort of run this March are the fitness of Remy Martin and if Rob Edwards can trap hearth. Martin became classified as 60-75 percent after ASU’s loss to Oregon within the Pac-12 semifinal loss. He is the motor that runs the Sun Devils when they’re gambling well, so, if he’s healthful, the Sun Devils ought to be pleasant. For Edwards, he’s been the most effective regular outside taking pictures presence for ASU, if he reveals his stroke against the Bulls, ASU will do extra than simply cover. — Brady Vernon, House of Sparky

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